Ticket to Ride (REVIEW)
Ticket to Ride is the most famous game released by game publisher Days of Wonder, and it has spawned an extremely popular game for the iOS market (and now the Android store as well). You’ve probably heard of it and wondered what the hype was all about.
Ticket to Ride is a game about railroads and trains, though it is by no means simulationist; rather, it’s a lightly-themed game of competitive resources and board control. The point of the game is to fill in the premarked rail lines on the board, gaining points by laying down tracks as well as finishing certain routes between two cities.
How does one do so? Well, next to the board are five stacks of ‘train cards,’ which simply show the car of a train in multiple colors. When it’s their turn, players can choose to either A) collect two of these cards, or B) play cards they’ve already got in their hands. Cards are played in order to place a route between two cities, using plastic train pieces on the board in the spots for that route. The routes themselves are different colors, coinciding with the train cards, and thus players need a certain amount of train cards of one color in order to fill in an entire route. The longer the route, the more points earned. For visualization purposes:
However, this game’s not just about collecting cards and laying down the most or longest routes (though having the longest route does net you some nice points). In the game you receive Destination Tickets, which depict a route between two cities. Keep in mind that the route on the ticket will probably be made up of more than one route on the board, so you’ll need to connect multiple routes together. These cards sort of help shape a player’s long term plan as they connect smaller routes into longer ones. Completing objectives such as these garner the player many more points, and players can collect more tickets throughout the game. Beware, however, if a player is caught at the end of the game (which is when any player is left with fewer than three train pieces) with an unfinished ticket, that player loses the points for that ticket rather than gaining them.
There are some other factors thrown into the mix to spice it up. There are Rainbow Train Cars, which are essentially wild cards and can be any color. Also, buying one of the small expansions can further twist up the game with such things as historical events, space alien invasions, and even a Godzilla like monster messing up your routes.
The game is great for families, and doesn’t require a large amount of time to play. The app itself plays even more quickly, and games on that can be over in as few as eleven minutes.
So, for the breakdown:
It’s an easy game to learn, but unfortunately there isn’t a wide gap between ‘learn’ and ‘master,’ and so those who are looking for something with more meat may go hungry after a few games. It is suggested that you purchase one of the many expansions to add more complexity to the game.
The theme is pretty original to me, as I’ve only ever played one other train ‘game’ (that one being Empire Builder, a much longer, heavier, and simulationist game). The gameplay is pretty novel, with a mixture of strategy and adaptability to overcome the randomness.
The little train pieces are good enough. The cards and artwork are pretty good, and Days of Wonder do have a reputation for quality materials in their games. It’s not mind blowing, but it does get the job done.
For me, this game is a good warm up to a larger game. I can’t play it repeatedly without quickly getting bored, however, as the game doesn’t have various paths to victory nor does it call for different strategies beyond choosing the right routes based on what you are dealt. It is a fun game for younger people, and I know families will be better served by it than games like Monopoly. In the end, it’s a fun game that can be easily set up to be played quickly, thus nearly becoming a must have for any board game collection.